Did you know that 61% of users will go elsewhere if they can't find what they're looking for on your website within as little as 5 seconds? Online business is a self-perpetuating engine that generates traffic, raises interest, transforms interest into a purchase, and retains customers. Your website works as the battleground to win prospects’ hearts and turn them into customers. To achieve this, you need to offer the best experience possible for your users that hooks them in quickly and smoothly.One way to achieve this is by having a clear and organized site structure that makes finding relevant content and accomplishing intended goals effortless and quick. Often, business owners simply copy and paste the website structure from other competitors, and it may work. However, you would highly benefit from understanding the anatomy of your online business and how it can effectively translate into the structure of your website. With your own time and effort to prepare it well, you can design a UX website sitemap design that hooks your users.A UX sitemap is one of the most important tools to understand the anatomy of online business. It is a planning tool that gives a bird's-eye view of all the pages of your website and how the pages are linked, visualizing them in a tree format. It helps to organize the website's structure and make it more user-friendly. Let's delve into why your website needs a UX sitemap and how to build a sitemap that effectively supports the anatomy of your business.The Anatomy of an Online Business
On your marketing website, you grow trust with prospects, educate them, and establish long-term partnerships. So let's take a closer look at the anatomy of a successful online business.Your business website has three arms:
- Marketing arm
- Operations arm
- App arm
In a nutshell, traffic is funneled into the marketing arm to educate and raise interest. Then, the operations arm registers new customers and converts them into paying clients. Finally, the app arm provides our solution as a product or service. A UX sitemap is a valuable tool for building the backbone to fuel these arms.
On the marketing end, the content is public and free. And on the app/solution side the content is protected and needs to be unlocked. The operation arm (aka sign-up wall) sits in between marketing and app (i.e. solution) arms.
Goals of Building a UX Sitemap
In a nutshell, each website sitemap has three goals:
Without proper branding, an online business cannot grow. Proper branding conveys reliability, trust, and professionalism. The main pages to establish trust with your audience are the homepage, about us, and imprint.
Your audience may not fully understand what you offer through social media and PR channels. Education pages should communicate your core offerings in simple, clear language. Properly educating your audience is crucial for making sales. Break down your core offerings in detail to explain how they solve different buyers' problems.
Dedicated pages are necessary to generate and direct traffic. Every online business should have a content engine that creates regular content. Create relevant and detailed content to address your audience's needs. You can generate traffic through blog articles, or by purchasing traffic if you have a budget.
What Is a UX Sitemap?
A UX website sitemap is a hierarchical diagram that visualizes the information architecture of a website or app. It provides a clear view of the sections of the website, allowing designers and developers to easily organize and plan a good user experience.It outlines the primary and secondary pages, and how they interact with each other. Often, reference numbers may be used for each page. Having a number for each item helps keep track of the sitemap contents. This systematic view of your website helps you observe and connect the relationships between the pages. It is generally put together after the discovery phase.It's important to note that a UX website sitemap is not the same as a XML sitemap. A site map XML file lists all the pages on a website to help search engines crawl and index the site's content more efficiently.
Deep Sitemap vs. Flat Sitemap
Sitemaps can be divided into two types: flat sitemap and deep sitemap. The difference lies in the extent of hierarchy. Deep sitemaps utilize more vertical levels, while flat sitemaps have fewer sublevels. The type that helps you create a good sitemap depends entirely on your website's architecture.Generally, deep sitemaps work well for websites with a lot of content, as it allows for clear organization of information. Flat sitemaps often work well for small websites with limited content, as it allows users to quickly find what they are looking for.
The UX design process for a sitemap is generally iterative, with UX designers and developers continually refining and adjusting the site structure based on user feedback, analytics, and business needs. As such, it is an essential tool in the design process and is often used in conjunction with other design artifacts, such as wireframes and prototypes.
Benefits of Creating an Visual Sitemap for Website Information Architecture
The primary purpose of a UX website sitemap is to improve website navigation by helping to comprehend and create a logical and intuitive navigation system for users. By mapping out the structure of the site, designers can see how different pages are related to each other and how users will move through the site to accomplish their goals. It can also help you keep track of content.If your website structure is not organized in an intuitive way, users are likely to get lost and be unable to achieve what you want them to achieve. This, in turn, can dampen your conversion rates. With a solid sitemap in place, you can easily see the structure and rearrange areas that require improvement.In addition, a UX sitemap allows you to identify gaps or redundancies in content, enabling you to make informed decisions about what information to include and where to place it. It can also help prioritize content and features based on user needs and business goals.
Design Process: How to Create a Sitemap UX Design
When designing a sitemap, the most important thing is to ensure that you prepare it well and provide the best experience possible. Include only the most relevant information you want to provide to your users and carefully consider the user flow and how users will navigate your website, so that you design a good sitemap that is easy for users to comprehend and use.So, how to build a sitemap that is impactful in improving the user experience? Here are the simplified steps for creating a sitemap UX design:
Step 1: Gather All Your Content
First things first - you need to gather all the content of your website. Outline all your website pages and sections, whether they are existing or planned. Group the similar ones wherever possible. Your sitemap needs to be comprehensive, so it should include every single page, including even the error and legal pages. At this point, you may utilize spreadsheets or notes to gather contents to keep track of everything neatly.
Step 2: Identify Primary and Secondary Pages
Now that you have the contents, it's time to identify and organize them as primary and secondary pages.Primary pages are typically the most prominent pages that contain information which should be quickly accessed by users. As such, they should be on the top of the page hierarchy for optimal discoverability. On the other hand, secondary pages are nested under the primary pages. But this doesn't mean they're unimportant - they are, in fact, a crucial part of the sitemap that needs attention. Think of primary pages as the main stars and secondary pages as the supporting cast, which is also crucial.For example, if your primary page is "Services," your secondary pages could be "Web Design," "SEO," and "Content Creation."
Step 3: Arrange Pages Through a Visual Diagram
Now your pages are ready to be linked together through a visual diagram. There are a variety of planning tools you can use to create sitemaps, such as Miro and Octopus. The important thing is to create a clear and easily understandable representation of your sitemap.Observe how the pages are connected to each other, and organize the primary pages at the top and link the secondary pages under them in a logical way that supports intuitive navigation. With a visual UX sitemap in place now, you have a clearer view of your website structure and how it will be navigated.Take a step back and observe if the organization helps provide a smooth and seamless user flow, guiding users throughout your website with ease and helping them accomplish their goals effortlessly. Recognize anything repetitive that can be taken out, as unnecessary elements in navigation distract users from what matters. And don't forget to add in any new pages as well, if there is a knowledge gap that can be bridged. If the navigation seems bumpy or incohesive, reorganize it until it flows smoothly.
Step 4: Test and Iterate Your Sitemap
Finally, it's important to test and iterate your sitemap to make sure you've chosen the best solution. This involves getting feedback from users, stakeholders, and other designers or developers and making any necessary adjustments to improve the usability and effectiveness of the sitemap.But how do you test it? You can try user testing, card sorting, or tree testing to ensure that the sitemap aligns with the user's needs and supports their journey. Keep iterating until the sitemap aligns with the user's needs and business goals and supports the overall user experience.
Tips for Creating a UX Sitemap Design for a Smooth User Journey
Creating an effective sitemap doesn't just stop at knowing how to build a sitemap. You also need to take time to research different factors that help design an excellent sitemap UX design. Here're some tips to help you out:
Define the Goals
The first step in creating a sitemap is to have a clear understanding of the goals of your website and the actions you want your users to take. Ask yourself what your business goals are and how your website fits into them. Understanding your goals will help you design a sitemap that supports your business objectives and optimally organizes the pages that make up your website.For example, let's say you've got a email marketing SaaS tool to offer. Your business goal might be to increase user sign-ups and engagement with your product. To achieve this goal, your sitemap could be structured to showcase the features and effectiveness of your product, highlight customer success stories, and make it easy for users to sign up for a free trial or schedule a demo.
Understand Your Users
Knowing your users and understanding how they will interact with different areas of your site is key to creating an effective sitemap. Take the time to research and understand their needs and pain points. This means asking yourself questions and conducting research to seek answers, as well as creating different scenarios that help guide your understanding of user behavior.For example, ask yourself who are your users? What are their goals and motivations? What are their pain points, and how can your website address them? Establishing user personas and mapping out the user journey can greatly help you improve your understanding to design a sitemap that meets their needs.Let's say you have a project management tool, and you have a prospect named Alicia, a small business owner who is struggling to keep track of her team's tasks and deadlines. To capture Alicia's interest through your website, you can create a clear and concise navigation structure that leads her to your product page, highlighting the benefits of your services and how they can address her pain points, along with offering a risk-free trial. Additionally, including a blog or resource section on the website that provides tips and tricks for effective project management can help establish credibility in her eyes and drive her to try the trial.
Research Your Competitors
Analyzing your competitors' websites can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn't. This can help you design a sitemap that stands out from the competition while meeting user needs and industry standards. Take note of the pages and features that your competitors have included in their sitemaps and identify any gaps or opportunities that you can leverage.Now, don't be a copycat, certainly. But by all means, observe what your competitor is doing. What are they doing right? Why does it work for them? And likewise, what are they lacking in? By conducting this research, you can find valuable insights and fresh perspectives to create a website sitemap design that provides an excellent user experience.
Keep It Concise
Conciseness is key. An excessively cluttered structure distracts users from what matters most and gets them lost amid a sea of content. To ensure your users have a smooth sail on your website, you need to keep the navigation straight to the point. This does not mean that valuable knowledge should be lacking, leaving your users scratching their heads. However, there shouldn't be an excessive amount of information that derails users from accomplishing the main goal.
Maintain the Sitemap
A UX sitemap is an important ongoing and iterative effort. When creating a sitemap, it's important to remember that it's a living document. It should be updated regularly to reflect changes in the website structure and user feedback. A sitemap audit is a good way to ensure that the sitemap is up to date and that it reflects the current state of the website.
Visualize Sitemap Using Tools for UX Sitemap
There are various tools to use to visualize planning and help arrange the structure of a website. Certain platforms like Miro may even provide a template to help you get started.
- Zen Flowchart
- DYNO Mapper